Part of the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration 2016 Series sponsored event.
I loved taking my kids to Disney when they were young. And my kids loved going for school and sport competitions. We love everything about Disney. So long before my grandson was born, I began dreaming about the day I’d be able to take him.
I didn’t imagine that it would be this soon – but the opportunity to attend the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration presented itself and we decided this was it. I had attended a few years before and knew that it offered a great mix of fun, family-focused meals and experiences, family park time and an inspirational conference day to tie it all together.
So while my trip wasn’t your average Disney trip by any means (and I did have two of my adult kids with me), I do have some tips for those grandparents who want to take their grandkids to Walt Disney World and make the most of the vacation and your time together!
Once you are there, you are there, and you won’t have time for extensive planning. Make sure your days are set ahead of time, but be prepared to pivot if necessary (we used MyDisneyExperience to learn about options and schedule our time). And make sure you download the app to use while in the park!
Once you decide to book a vacation, look around at resources online (the Disney site, blogs etc…) to get tips for booking meals and FastPass rides, and do this as soon as the options are available to get the best times. Character meals and FP times for some of the favorite rides fill up fast, and making reservations for the things you want to do the most will ensure you don’t wait in crazy lines and can accommodate nap times. If you don’t get the character dining you want, be sure to check for any last minute cancellations too.
Be sure to check out ride heights if you are taking younger children.
You don’t want to get them excited about particular rides only to find they aren’t tall enough.
Once there, grab the maps and note the rest rooms (important for both grandparents and grandkids!) and family stations (for bandaids etc) so you aren’t waiting until the minute you need them to find them.
Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen. Obviously, it’s Florida, so apply early and often.
Ice cream, ice cream, ice cream! Obviously, it’s Florida, so eat early and often! And don’t forget to try the Dole Whip!
Strollers! If you can take a stroller with you, do. If you can’t take one with you, consider renting one. We used ours every day, all day, and it kept us from having to carry a tired child ALL the time. Beck took a few of his naps in there, which allowed us to stay in the park instead of traveling back to the hotel. In the extreme heat, it might help to have a stroller fan as well. And mark your stroller with something to easily identify it. It’s a good reason to buy and attach a balloon (that your grandchild will be asking for anyway!). When you drop your stroller in the stroller queue while riding a ride, it will probably get moved by cast members to make room for others that come and go, and we often had a hard time finding our stroller in the sea of sameness.
Plan Some Slow Days Too
We had a whirlwind week and tried to cram in as much as we could into our days at the parks. We quickly learned what types of rides Beck liked and which ones he didn’t. Since he didn’t like dark rides (inside a building where the rides have long periods of darkness) we opted to not even try certain rides which we’d originally thought he might like.
That freed up a little time to enjoy some downtime and hang out at the hotel, visit Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney) and just walk through the World Showcase at Epcot. There will be other trips to try those rides in the future when he’s a little older – and that downtime was definitely needed.
Disney Springs is expanding (with new areas opening up soon!) and you’ll definitely find some fun places to visit like the movie theater, Rainforest Cafe restaurant, Lego store and more. And you can get Disney transportation to and from Disney Springs, so it’s a must-visit for some after-park downtime.
We stopped for as many photos as we could and having the Memory Maker made that easy. There are Cast Member photographers positioned at many prime locations throughout the parks, with character meet and greets – and of course ride photos snapped at some of the most thrilling spots of the ride.
Instead of worrying about getting those shots on your own (you’ll still want a camera, just take the pressure off of YOU to grab all the perfect shots), buy the Memory Maker so you can capture those moments and still have two hands to wrangle the grandkids. See some of our vacation photos and the special magic shots you can get!
Setting and Resetting Expectations
Toddlers are known for changing their mind and yours too. We planned for the trip as best we could, researching the rides he could ride and the food he’d want – and in the end, we had to rethink our plans a few times. Beck didn’t care for the dark rides, so we stopped trying them, even though we “thought” he’d enjoy some of them. Beck didn’t want to shop (who’s child is he?) so we didn’t spend a lot of time in stores.
And Beck did NOT like the Storm Troopers, so we got out of that part of Hollywood Studios ASAP. That face up there says it all. So it’s best to be prepared to give up and move on when a situation arises. After all when the toddler isn’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.
Shopping has been made easy too – all park merchandise is available online and can be shipped to your home or select resorts, so no more looking for your size in that shirt – the Shop Disney Parks app will locate it for you at a store in the park so you can pick it up or have it shipped.
Disney really has made vacationing easy and effortless, so traveling with family can be about family – not all the other stuff you have to do. I don’t know when we’ll get back, but it won’t be long. It’s our favorite vacation spot because are never too old or too young to enjoy the magic of Walt Disney World!
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